Organizing Your Fabric Stash

Fabric Bolts

This is the second post in a series of post for our Creative Space Declutter and Organization Challenge. In our previous post, I shared some tips on organizing your sewing patterns. In this post I will look at how to organize your fabric stash. I will also share some tips on how to stay organized. A good system for keeping your fabric stash organized is crucial. It can impact the overall organization of your creative space and will impact your ability to manage your projects and control your spending.

It is no secret that I absolutely love fabric and I have a habit of buying fabric just because I love the print. However, this approach contributes to way too much fabric in my studio. To get this under control, in the past year I have adopted the approach of nothing in until something goes out, and to only purchase fabric if I have a specific project in mind. Since adopting this approach, I have definitely seen an improvement in my fabric purchasing. Unfortunately, I still had my existing stash to deal with and it desperately needed to be purged and organized. There is a point where you can collect more fabric than you can actually ever use.

My situation is a bit outside of the norm as I also teach sewing classes. Not all the fabric that gets purchased for classes become a favourite with students, so unfortunately some pieces end up just sitting in the studio. Going through the fabric stash at the studio has taken a couple weeks, simply because of the volume of fabric that needed organizing and I did not have a dedicated block of time to focus on the task. So where do you get started when busting a massive stash of fabric?

START ORGANIZING YOUR FABRIC STASH

Organizing your fabric stash can be very overwhelming. The larger your stash the more overwhelming it can feel. Ask yourself a few questions before getting started on your storage solution:

  1. What type of fabric do I have?
  2. How much fabric do I have?
  3. What type of projects do I make or will like to make?
  4. How much fabric do I need for my projects?
  5. When do I plan on making my projects?
  6. Is my available storage space adequate?

Depending on the answers to these questions, your storage solution can be as simple as getting a few storage bins and organizing your fabric by type and/or colour. If you have a large fabric stash, you may have to use a combination of storage solutions.

TYPES OF FABRIC

Gather all the fabric in one place and sort by textile type. This approach will help you identify what type of fabrics you have. It also helps you identify the type of projects you can make with your existing stash. When you group your fabric into silk, cotton, linen, home decor, knits, flannel, and so forth you can see exactly what you have. Once you have gathered and sorted the fabric by type, you can go though each group of fabric and select those pieces you absolutely love.

Place the fabric you love into individual storage containers, boxes, bags or bins. You can then label the containers according to the fabric type. Sort the remaining pieces of fabric into groups labelled gift, swap, sell or donate. This approach makes it easy to identify your fabrics when you are working on a project that requires a particular type of material. If you have the space you can fold and organize your fabric on shelving, which will allow you to see what you have at a glance.

MEASURING AND LABELLING FABRIC PIECES

Measure your fabric and label each piece with the fabric content and the available length. This is helpful when I am sorting through my stash for a project because I know how much fabric is available. You can also roll soft fabric or irregular shape pieces and fold bulky yardage onto a fabric bolt.

I make fabric boards from foam core or signboards to fold some of my yardage. If you are purchasing the last of the fabric on a bolt, ask the fabric store to leave the fabric on the bolt. You can also take the time to square off your fabric and create a separate bin for sizeable scraps. Having a system to keep track of your fabric makes it easier to find the right fabric for your projects. 

STORING YOUR FABRIC

You are ready to organize your fabric once you have gone through the process of sorting and purging your stash. There are so many wonderful ways you can store your fabric. I use several different solutions, mainly because I have fabric for both personal and business use. I suggest you evaluate your current storage solution and decide if it will work for your stash and your productivity. You can measure your available space and decide what size containers you may need. You can use boxes, baskets, shelving, clothing dresser or a spear closet, just to name a few possibilities.

When I first started teaching I used my guest bedroom closet to store fabric. I kept the fabric in clear rubber bins, which I labelled by fabric type. Now I store my fabric in cabinets, open shelves, rubber bins and lined baskets. I have glass door cabinets in my studio space, which protects my fabric from dust and odours. The glass doors make it easy for me to see what I have at a glance.

I also have a small storage room off of my kitchen. The space was my home office and is now lined with open shelving. It stores fabric and some of the machines I use to teach sewing classes. What is great about the space is that it has a door to protect the fabrics from odours off the kitchen. The rest of my fabric stash (yes there is more) is stored in my basement craft room in rubber bins, which are also labelled by fabric type.

Remember to store your fabric in a dry space and out of the direct sunlight. You also want to make sure there will not be any colour transfer or staining of your fabric from shelving or fabric boards. As a precaution you can line your shelves with acid free paper.

STAYING MOTIVATED

I originally designated a week for organizing fabric and my stash has taken me three weeks. Give yourself as much time as needed to get the task done and don’t get discouraged. Doing a little bit each day will get the job done. I will keep you guys posted on our progress and will love to here about your organization journey. Remember to use #csgetorganized to share your progress with us. Do you have any suggestions for how to bust a fabric stash?

*If you will like to see details on how I make our fabric boards, visit my previous post on Organizing Fabric.

 


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